Home » The African Development Bank to provide $80 million to finance the Ekiti Knowledge Zone project in Nigeria to boost digital innovation

The African Development Bank to provide $80 million to finance the Ekiti Knowledge Zone project in Nigeria to boost digital innovation

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The African Development Bank to provide $80 million to finance the Ekiti Knowledge Zone project in Nigeria to boost digital innovation

ABUJA, Nigeria, February 22, 2024 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-In the heart of Ekiti State, Nigeria, a revolutionary initiative is taking shape: the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ), a daring system aiming to transform the region into a hub of digital innovation and the knowledge economy.

The African Development Bank has committed to providing a loan of US$80 million for this pioneering state-led special economic zone project, designed to connect educators, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and industries on the same site .

(L to R): Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group and Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, Governor of Ekiti State, during an official meeting in Lagos.

More than just a project, the Ekiti Knowledge Zone promises to be a place where ideas converge, creativity flourishes and dreams take shape. The Ekiti State Government is committed to providing $14.8 million as counterpart to complete the financing of the project costing $94.8 million.

In April 2023, the Federal Government of Nigeria conferred “free zone” status on the project under the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) Act. This allows private investors to benefit from numerous incentive advantages: free land, tax exemptions and exemptions from import and export duties, which creates an environment conducive to investment and innovation.

Spread over 40 hectares, the EKZ aims to catalyze digital entrepreneurship and aims to create 26,000 jobs and inject $14 million per year into the economy once the project is completed.

The project envisages the development of world-class infrastructure, creating a 20-hectare green technology park and providing roads, electricity, water supply and wastewater treatment services. It will also invest in human capital, particularly in youth. With plans to train information and communication technology training for over 19,000 youths in Ekiti and neighboring states, EKZ will sow the seeds of future entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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The EKZ seeks to attract companies, including technology start-ups, business process outsourcing companies, manufacturing and production companies, research institutes and corporate back-office activities, to They settle in the area. An incubator program will support promising start-ups through pre-seed and seed funding provided by the Ekiti Innovation Fund. The project will attract anchor investors from the private sector to form a special purpose vehicle that will allow multiple investors to pool financing and manage the operations of the zone.

Lamin Barrow, Managing Director of the African Development Bank Country Department in Nigeria (5th from left); Stanley George, Director, Department of International Economic Relations, Federal Ministry of Finance (6th from left) and Akintunde Oyebode, Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development (7th from left) , during the negotiations of the EKZ loan agreement at the Bank’s office in Abuja.

What sets EKZ apart is not just development, it is also innovation, leveraging Ekiti State’s competitive advantage and the presence of five tertiary institutions in the Ekiti educational quadrangle. Ekiti State is home to the Federal University Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State University, Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Afe Babalola University and Federal Polytechnic, as well as over 30 universities in neighboring states from Kwara, Kogi, Ondo and Osun, which constitute a vast talent pool.

The EKZ fits perfectly with the Bank’s “Jobs for Youth in Africa” strategy, which aims to strengthen links between academia and industry to nurture entrepreneurial talent and develop a workforce. qualified work that meets the needs of employers.

“It is exciting to see that the efforts we undertook a few years ago, during my tenure, to make Ekiti Nigeria’s knowledge economy and the preferred destination for innovation, technology, artificial intelligence, science and digital initiatives, are beginning to bear fruit,” praised former Governor of Ekiti State and former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi.

As the EKZ takes shape, it is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation and foresight. “It is a beacon of hope for young people, a testimony of our commitment to fostering innovation, job creation and sustainable economic growth; it is a commitment to a better future for our state and for Nigeria,” said Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji.

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Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) for the African Development Bank.

The post African Development Bank to provide $80 million to finance Ekiti Knowledge Zone project in Nigeria to boost digital innovation appeared first on African Media Agency.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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